Under Control? Regulating Mobility, Security, and Development at China’s Border

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/96838
Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2022-01-10
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Asien- und Orientwissenschaften
Advisor: Schubert, Gunter (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2019-11-22
DDC Classifikation: 320 - Political science
Keywords: Grenzpolitik , Regionalisierung , Einwanderung , Souveränität
Other Keywords:
border studies
zones of exception
immigration practices
ethnographic border regime analysis
border regime
License: http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/doku/lic_ohne_pod.php?la=de http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/doku/lic_ohne_pod.php?la=en
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The existing literature on border and migration in China mostly approaches the issue either from a legal general perspective or anthropologically investigates specific local cases. A comprehensive analysis of the border regime, its rationalities and how local and central actors interact within it, has been lacking so far. Hence, this thesis scrutinizes the changing dynamics of the Chinese border regime, following the question of how authority is exerted and how it impacts local immigration and bordering practices in the context of Asian regional development between 2001 and 2018. The underlying argument is that the Chinese border regime utilizes the border management and immigration system to create ‘zones of exception’. The thesis finds that, on the one hand, these ‘zones of exception’ are a result of the decentralized Chinese political system that works with policy pilots creating Special Border Zones (SBZ) providing preferential policies. On the other hand, I argue, that the Chinese state is deliberately creating ‘graduated’ authority over immigration laws and practices that characterize the spatial and discursive articulation of the border regime. In order to do this, the thesis includes chapters on the graduated immigration system that shows the legal construction of exception, the scalar structure of the border regime to show how border security actors interact and how Special Border Zones are maintained, the spatial articulation of the border regime to show how regional organizations play into local practices, and lastly, an in-depth analysis of two cases (in Yunnan and Jilin Province) to show how local governments practice immigration at the border. Methodologically, the thesis builds on the ‘Ethnographic Border Regime Analysis’ approach from the transit migration research group that combines a (symptomatic) discourse analysis and field work to produce situated knowledge. In sum, this thesis shows how the Chinese border regime differentiates its strategies of control: Regulation techniques are adapted according to different location (graduated sovereignty) and different groups of immigrants (graduated citizenship). The authority over state territory is graduated manifesting in Special Border Zones that provide preferential policies, exceptional immigration procedures, and additional resources to integrate the local economy and facilitate trade across the border. Also, authority exerted over people crossing the border is differentiated creating a graduated citizenship regime. The immigration system selects immigrants mostly depending on whether they are economically valuable and peripheralizes those immigrants that are less valuable. Although the central government has reformed its immigration system throughout the period of analysis, there is still no coherent concept of border politics. The immigration system has become significantly institutionalized and procedures have been clarified. Yet, some issues are omitted such as refugee or asylum law. To a large degree, the question of how the border area is to be governed on-site is conveyed to local authorities. Local governments and Public Security Bureaus cooperate to find solutions for specific immigration issues, such as Border Residency and locally valid working permits. The rule by exception became normal. This thesis contributes to a theoretical understanding of sovereign borders in the context of regional integration, it extensively throws light on the empirical cases of local border practices of the Chinese border regime, it adds to the debates on how borders are managed between the conflicting priorities of free movement and authoritarian governmentality, and it enhances our understanding of how graduated citizenship is practiced.

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